Pimp My Board Game

a pursuit of fruitless endeavors and endless refinements

Tag: last night on earth (Page 1 of 2)

New Project Woes and a Twist on Last Night on Earth

Having finished up my Pitchcar connector track, I was free to start up my Dropzone Commander building base project.  I had already made the prototype in CAD and then I set the tool pathing so it was ready to try it out.

Fresh off my success with the Pitchcar piece, I had high hopes for this to be quick as well. Unfortunately, it was not quick.  The “roughing” alone on the mill job ended up running almost two hours and had a static shock snafu that forced a reboot.  Since I never connected my homing switches, re-aligning the tool perfectly didn’t happen but I figured with it being a prototype, it should work out well enough.

Things are a bit rough but aside from some weird errors, it looked like it would do ok, even if it didn’t look the best.

Nope. The edges were too big to fit the building under so I’ll need to resize the CAD and come back.

The little mini building didn’t fit either so both options were a bust.  Ah well.  I should have known I wouldn’t get lucky on the first try as my Pitchcar pieces usually took two trials to get it down correctly.  This project will be no exception.

Unrelated but of even more concern, my machine is acting a bit funny by trying to drive into the stock when it starts the path program and right after it completes.  It must be a setting or file command that I didn’t setup correctly.  I’ll have to compare some files to see what code I trying to bury my mill bits randomly into the stock.


This past weekend wasn’t all CNC work though as we were able to drop another seasonally thematic game to the table: Last Night on Earth.  We haven’t played this one in a while but a friend dropped off an old copy of Mall Madness and we decided to try out the fan-made variant that links the Mall Madness board with the Last Night on Earth module boards to make one massive variant in the style of Dawn of the Dead.

The variant is really well done with a lot of thematic rules and nice blending of the two board layouts.  The goal is to get seven supply counters from the mall back to your truck and get out of town before three of your heroes die or the round counter reaches round 20.

Some initial feedback said the variant seemed to favor the zombies but we still thought we could power through.  The game went very smoothly and we decided to not bog down the game trying to figure out the edge cases.  Flying Frog seems to have rulebook issues where the complicated interactions never really resolve through any of the rules listed and you have to infer or try to find the resolution online.  Since the game is otherwise pretty simple, getting lost in the weeds really kills a lot of their games so we’ve found that just deciding on something and moving on usually works best.

Our heroes sucked in this one.  We struggled to find good items and when we did, those sneaky zombie players would play a card to wipe it out.  We also lost a lot of critical fights as the zombie players kept rolling hot.  Finally, we messed up a bit by keeping our heroes split up, trying to do too many things at once and it made it easy for the zombies to pick off a lone hero that wandered too far away.

Zombie Johnny ended up killing our third hero and ending our failed supply run.  It was great to see the game hit the table again and the Mall really added to the flavor and scenario.

Unfortunately, as is the case with a lot of fan-made content I’ve seen, it didn’t seem particularly well balanced.  The Last Night on Earth rules offer several ways to add new rules to the game and even does a good job at ranking the add-ons so you can see how much it may affect the game balance and compensate accordingly.  This scenario seemed to take a lot of the zombie add-ons but not compensate the heroes very much to balance it out.  There was also an interesting rule that the variant added where the zombies move 3 spaces in the mall (normally they move 1).  Since there was no change to the hero speed (still rolled a d6 for movement), it seemed odd to give them such a big advantage.

If we do it again, we’ll drop the extra speed to two spaces and give the heroes 1d6+1.  We’ll also look at the add-ons to see if we can’t balance up the hero side a bit more. Still, the mall board works very well and I’m looking forward to trying it again.

Gen Con 50 Recap Day 1

Thursday opened the Con with its typical crush of attendees all vying for position at the main entrances.

While I didn’t really notice a difference in attendance on Wednesday, I surely felt it Thursday. Gen Con personnel did a good job of keeping things safe and moving so even with the larger crowds, the transition into the exhibition hall was smooth and quick.

Inside, I had a goal of grabbing the new dexterity game Flip Ships (art by my favorite game artist Kwanchai Moriya).  Unfortunately, Renegade Studios also announced a new game in the Clank! line so their booth was packed. With the aid of a friendly attendee couple, we found a way through the disorganized chaos of that booth and paid for our haul and got out of there.

I had about 30 minutes before my first event so I made my way to the Hawk Wargames booth to chat about the new Dropzone 2.0 rules.  I was not disappointed as the demoers were pretty knowledgeable, being avid fans of the original game. I have a summary of the 2.0 rules here. Please note that these rules were what I heard/understood and are subject to change.

Soon after, I was off to my first event of the Con: an X-wing variant “The Heroes of the Alturi Cluster.”  This variant automates the Imperial ships and turns the overarching flow of the game into a full co-op with all players (up to 6) piloting one ship.

I chose a B-wing to pilot and we were off to stop a group of Imperial interceptors from attacking a Rebel transport.  The system worked out very well and I plan on printing out the campaign for our group.

The system allows for pilots to gain experience and buy upgrades and skill so it also contains some light advancement rules.  Very fun and I can’t wait to get a group together to play through it.

The event ended a little earlier so I snagged a quick lunch and jumped back into the dealer hall to scout out some games that were on my demo list.  I went to the Ares Games booth to see about Hunt for the Ring but they didn’t have anything except some minis in a case (lame).

Next, it was over to Flying Frog Productions to see about their new 10th Anniversary Edition of Last Night on Earth.

The new bits look good but are a little cheap.  The new heroes sound fun and if they offered an upgrade pack for the fans that helped get them to 10 years, I’d be in but forcing me to rebuy all the content I already have gets a big “no thanks.”   From talking with the guys at the booth, they sound like they want to do the same thing for A Touch of Evil.  If that is the case and they won’t also release an upgrade pack, I can just scratch that publisher off the list of ones to ever check out again.

I popped over to the Catalyst booth with little hope for info on some of The Duke expansions that have sat around on pre-order for almost a year now.  Catalyst, as expected, was too busy dealing with their big Gen Con release, Dragonfire, to have info on those expansions but lo! What was this??

In their display case, a new Duke core set was shown (with some uninspiring art).  I went in search for more answers and it sounds like they are hoping to have this through in a year (don’t hold your breathe with this publisher).  After that, they want to work on a Feudal Japanese themed version.  That really isn’t news as they’ve been dangling that carrot in from of The Duke fans for years now.  In any case, it was surprising to see a new edition in the works with some new and out of print bits included.

So you may ask, ‘why does Catalyst get a free pass with a version re-issue and Flying Frog doesn’t?’ and it is simple economics.   I have a lot of Last Night on Earth and having another copy of all those components will be pretty useless.  Another copy of The Duke, however, can be used in a travel version I’m making and includes the OOP Arthurian Legends expansion that is impossible to find for anything but insane price points.  Also the price for this new Duke set will likely be on par with the original unlike the 10th anniversary Last Night on Earth set which is retailing for $100.

At this point, it was time to head over to my next event, A Song of Ice and Fire Miniatures Game.

This is CMON Limited’s new tabletop miniatures game that just finished wrapping up on Kickstarter. I’m really not sure what to think of what CMON was doing with this product.  They ended the Kickstarter campaign right before Gen Con, missing an opportunity to show the game off to a lot of people and gain more backers and base support.  I did back the campaign but wanted to try it out before I committed to any more in their eventual pledge manager.  Luckily, I was able to get into a demo and get some hands on experience.

I’d read the work-in-progress rules posted to the campaign so I was pretty familiar with the basics but it’s always better to see the game in action.  Unfortunately, CMON overreached on this whole product and didn’t have enough production copies on hand to run the full event that was listed in the program.  Instead of a full game, they only had enough models to play two units vs two units.  Some demo is better than no demo and they compensated us for the change in event layout with the remainder of the San Diego Comic Con exclusive promo.

That is a nice little bonus. It was unfortunate that I wouldn’t get to try out a full game but planning for this event has to happen months in advance and if any little issue comes up, it can cause things like this to happen.

Back to the demo at hand.  It was good to see and feel how the units work and interact but we hit another snag in trying to learn this game as the person running the demo (a volunteer for CMON) had zero experience with any tabletop game and it seemed like a passing understanding of the game he was demoing.  I would like to say that we just got unlucky but I had other friends demo this at the CMON booth later and they had the same experience.  It also didn’t help that, as a “feature,” CMON hired a live violinist to play Game of Thrones themes with amps pointed directly at the play tables. Not the best idea for your demoers to shout the rules at you over live music.  The musician was good but it was just another misstep in a series of missteps for this products first debut at the biggest gaming Con in North America.  I asked for them to turn it down or turn the speakers to point somewhere else but was told they couldn’t.

In the actual demo, after wading through a lot of missing rules, misunderstandings and incompetent instruction, we played a “game” with me running the Starks and my friend taking the Lannisters.  Whatever game we ended up playing was interesting but I have zero confidence that I actually played the game listed on the box.  I was able to surround Jaime Lannister’s unit and beat the hell out of him but I can’t claim that it was due to any strategic prowess on my part. Rather, it was due more to the fact that the demoer would let my friend know what he could have done instead, usually using a rule never explained or mentioned.

The miniatures are great and there seems to be an interesting game on that table if I cobble the basic experience I had playing with the physical models and combine it with the beta rulebook posted but I can’t say if I’m really going to go in on this game as there is too much unknown at this point.  I was glad to see some of the unit stats got revised between the start of the KS campaign and the demo as it looked a little unbalanced with the few units they showed so far. Things didn’t go as swingy as I thought but again, who knows what game I was actually playing.  I tried to get clarification from the person running the demo group but all I got was that some of the rules were modified to fit the extremely small game we played as a demo. Ah well.  At least the minis look cool. Maybe I’ll pick it up and pillage it for Kings of War.

While at the display case, I also checked out their next Kickstarter, Hate. I have no info on this game but the resin miniatures were fantastic looking.

Moving on from the debacle that was Song of Ice and Fire, I had a few more minutes to check out the hall before it closed and remembered that I saw some little teaser about some interesting 15mm miniature game coming out called Time of Legends: Joan of Arc. The company was new so it got shunted into the very corner of the exhibition hall so I trekked over and saw a pretty amazing scene.

My jaw dropped when I saw that display case.  I didn’t have time to really check it out but I immediately cancelled my first event on Friday to make sure that as soon as the dealer hall opened, I would bee-line to this booth and drop in for a demo to see if it played as cool as it looked.

With the dealer hall closing, we headed out to dinner and then hit the They Might Be Giants concert.

I’d always wanted to see this group live and they were ok but I think it had just been too long since I listened to them and that style of music just isn’t as interesting anymore.

We left the concert before the encore and headed to the BGG Hot Game room.  The game room didn’t seem as well stocked as last year or maybe the offerings were just weaker but we got in a good intro game to Flamme Rouge.

Flamme Rouge is a racing game with a customized track.  You move by playing cards from your two rider decks.  Each player has the same decks but you’ll be adding low “exhaustion” cards to your deck if you stay out in the lead.

By mid-game, I’d broken away from the pack and we all left our friend Colton (black riders) in the dust.  I figured my lead rider would burn out and my second rider to coast in using the blue riders as his wind shield. But apparently Colton had other plans and was just biding his time.  We got all bunched up on a hill and then Colton started subtly making his move.

and then used his sprinter to blast ahead right at the very end, narrowly winning the race.  The game was shocking and quite fun.  I’d definitely play it again but still feel like CFR delivers the better racing game.

We finished out the evening and day 1 with Kingdomino, the Spiel des Jahres winner.  I’m not sure what happened but I totally misheard the rules and played totally wrong, losing horribly.  This was surprising because the game is really simple.  I guess I was more tired than I thought or had a little too much bourbon during Flamme Rouge…

Showcase: Last Night on Earth/Invasion from Outer Space

One of the first board games I really got into was Flying Frog Production’s Last Night on Earth zombie horror game.  The game first hit the shelves in 2007 and I picked it up right away due to its unique art style using edited studio photography in place of the more common painted or illustrated art of other games.

image from bgg, publisher

The game play itself was pretty unique to me as well.  This game didn’t set players against each other or co-operatively against the board game itself, it had a player play as the zombies trying to defeat the heroes.  This one-vs-many approach was pretty common in dungeon-delving games like Heroquest and Descent but it was novel in the zombie game genre- a genre, I’d like to point out, was not anywhere near as populated as what we see today.  If you check out that Boardgamegeek geeklist of zombie games, you’ll notice most of the entries are after Last Night on Earth came out. Essentially if you wanted a zombie game back then, you were either doing the All Things Zombie miniatures rules, something by Twilight Creations, or little unknown one-off games from small publishers.

In my narrow view (and increasingly narrower) view of the board game hobby, Last Night on Earth’s hit release was at the beginning of the wave or possibly the catalyst for wave of zombies games that came after its release.

So with this game, I loved everything about it: the storytelling, the art, and the mechanics, but I wanted more. As I wrote about in one of my first posts years ago, this game really got me into painting and pimping out games, starting with painting the minis.

These were some of the first minis I ever painted and the original painting thread on Boardgamegeek was the inspiration.  Looking back at what I’ve done since then, it’s hard not to understate how important that one article was to my enjoyment of this hobby.

Flying Frog saw a lot of success from Last Night on Earth and was able launch their game company from it, spawning several expansions and ultimately branching out into other game systems.  In 2010, Flying Frog returned to the Last Night on Earth system and created a ballsy new edition: Invasion from Outer Space.

Aliens invading the setting of Last Night’s Woodvale was not that far fetched but Flying Frog decided to take on a crazy twist to the story by adding a carnival setting complete with tutu-wearing dancing bear.

The reaction to this adventurous take was pretty mixed.  I loved the wacky theme and new territory Flying frog was breaking into but the public seemed to not care for such a whimsical approach.

The heroes were more developed, more interesting, and more fun to paint, but I think it confused buyers looking for a more serious approach to the game system. In their defense, Flying Frog added rules to use the heroes from Last Night on Earth in the game in case you wanted to leave the crazy carnies out of it.  This mix was not enough and ultimately Flying Frog never returned to the game.

Abandoning the title was pretty sad as the aliens and mechanics around them were great and I really wanted to see more on the Carnival adventure.

One little pimp I did to the game outside of just painting the minis was adding these flying saucer miniatures taken from Monsterpocalypse by Privateer Press.  These markers represent the flying saucers flying overhead, warping more aliens down to the planet and causing havoc.

Ultimately, I still love the setting and both games but I was sad they never expanded Invasion from Outer Space.  Luckily, they haven’t abandoned everything and still produce Last Night on Earth content (though it has been quiet until very recently).

from ICv2, publisher

At GAMA, Flying Frog announced they are doing a 10th anniversary release of Last Night on Earth for 2017. From the ICv2 article:

Last Night on Earth 10th Anniversary Edition, which will be produced as a deluxe limited version of the game.  This boxed set will include eight heroes, including new playable versions of the original Townsfolk, along with a plastic Old Truck model, plastic pieces for several of the game markers, new scenarios, and an updated and expanded rulebook that includes rules for fire and the experience system introduced in the Timber Peak expansion.  MSRP is $99.95.

While I’m glad Flying Frog is back in the Last Night on Earth game setting, this product seems more like what new players should pick up as the hardcore fans likely already have the Timber Peak expansion and don’t need to rebuy all of that other material.  This is a little unfortunate as these same hardcore players helped keep the game alive and would likely want a lot of the special plastic pieces and new versions of the townsfolk.

Maybe Flying Frog will look at making a separate “upgrade” kit for original owns similar to what Ares Games did for fans of their War of the Ring Anniversary Release.

Cabin Con 2016 Prep part 2

So this is the last weekend to get ready for our annual Cabin Con gaming and I’m still prepping material for some games.  I’ve been making progress on my components but I’m still pretty behind.  I’ll likely need to start scratching things off the list to make sure I can finish the most pressing projects in time.

First up are my Battle Buses from Dropzone Commander for use first in my Thunder Road Skull City variant.

battle bus

So a long ways to go on these as I only have them primed and base painted.  A have a sinking feeling that these won’t be ready in time 🙁

Next up, I wanted to include the Cabin Con goers in The Walking Dead All Out War minis game preview I’m running.  This game is from Mantic and should be out near the end of the year but they released a preview of the rules and I’m eager to try them out.  There is no way I can get 3D sculpts of us so I decided to go old school and make custom standees for each of us.

standee

A quick picture, some photoshopping, and printing gets my test standee prepped.  Litko Game Accessories makes nice little acrylic standees that are perfect for this and so I was able to grab pics of some of the other attendees, assemble the standees, and now I have half of them ready. The other pics will be ready when I ambush the attendees upon arrival.

standees 1

In the background, you can check out the papercraft building I also completed for this game. I’ve discussed paper terrain before and this is a set of city buildings from Fat Dragon Games.

building 1

The building was really easy to make: print per the instructions, cut out the pieces, glue it together and we’re good to go.  These buildings feature my favorite aspect of paper terrain: collapsible and portable.

building2

So I still have a long way to go.  I need to make some additional paper buildings, print another game mat, and work out the rest of the details on these games but it’s a start…

all together

Time to get back to work!

CabinCon 2016 Prep

In less than two weeks, my friends and I will trek into the mountains and unofficially start off the summer game convention season with our own private little game convention, CabinCon.

CabinConLogo

CabinCon logo designed by Bret Bays

Started almost 4 years ago, CabinCon began as a way to enjoy the 24/7 open-gaming of a big convention but within the comfort of a private setting.  While we all enjoy the large and not-so-large conventions like Gen Con, BGG Con, we found that the larger conventions are so packed with interesting non-gaming alternatives that we don’t get to actually play many games.  CabinCon has now become our annual gaming only retreat. A time when we can break out the extreme games that are either too complicated or too long to try to enjoy in a typical evening.

I tend to use CabinCon to also break out some of the many games I’ve pimped over the years.  This year, I’m a little behind in prepping some pimped games so I’m going to have to burn through the remaining days to finish up in time.

I recently backed a new miniatures game from Mantic Games based on the Walking Dead comic series called The Walking Dead: All Out War.  I’ve been looking for a flexible zombie miniatures game and after seeing what Mantic was producing for their Walking Dead game, it sounded like everything I needed. Since the end of the kickstarter campaign, Mantic has released a couple of iterations of the rules and even though I don’t have any physical product, I’ve decided to run a game or two at CabinCon using proxies.

While The Walking Dead minis game has a great tabletop minis skirmish ruleset, it also features a solo (which can easily be expanded to a co-operative game) and a campaign option.  In this campaign option is also a nice custom character generator and I’m planning on creating all of us as custom characters to run in a little custom Walking Dead scenario.

Character Cards - Christian draft web

custom TWD minis game character sheet draft

I’ll be proxying quite a bit since I don’t have the actual cards and miniatures but zombie games are so popular, it’s hard not to have an extra couple or ten lying around to pillage for parts.

lnoe full shot

probably using a few of these guys…

I’ll also proxy the necessary cards but those are easy to do and after years of prototyping for game testing, creating cards is like second nature.  The bigger challenge will be making the terrain but I’m confident I can proxy up some paper terrain to give it enough atmosphere…

restaurant_edit_web

I’ll pull some Google Earth images to get a general game mat option.  The resolution will be horrible but it should work for the one-off game.  Alright enough writing, it’s time to get busy prototyping.

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